April is Financial Literacy Month!

Whenever I talk about Finances I very quickly get the disinterested look from most people.  I’m pretty used to it by now and that most are just not that intrigued by financial data. Although if you talk about “saving money” most people are interested in it. One aspect of Finance IS saving money!

April is Financial Literacy Month and I thought it would be a great time to share some of the many ways to help save money. Saving money is important; a young person will need to save just over $900 a month for 30 years to be able to sustain a ‘middle class’ retirement.  The challenge of saving money is daunting, but there are some great tools out there to help if you’re falling short of that $900 a month goal.

It first requires a budget. You need to know what your current expenses are in order to develop a plan to save money. So yes, that coffee you buy at Tim Hortons everyday for $2.95 needs to be part of current expenses.

Mint   

Mint is a one-stop shop for managing all your finances.  Mint is developed by Intuit which is the same maker as TurboTax and Quickbooks.  You can use the mobile app or the desktop version.  My personal favorite, you can use spreadsheets!  Some of the benefits are:

  1. See everything in one place –  account balances, track bills, net worth, areas of possible savings
  2. Manage bills and money together with the bill pay feature
  3. Use it to create a budget
  4. Syncs with the Mint web app – no waiting for updates!

Wallet

Wallet allows you to set goals, understand your financial situation and stay in control of your finances.  One added benefit that I enjoy is you can upload your rewards cards and share with family member to collect points all in one account.

  1. Track purchases
  2. Sync to bank accounts
  3. Analyze your spending
  4. Set spending limits and goals
  5. Automatically sync with your bank

Once you have established a budget and are tracking your spending now let’s take a look at your retirement savings. I suggest using a retirement calculator to see how you are tracking towards retirement. Possibly consider increasing your 401(k) contribution or even opening a Roth IRA with the extra money.

Mass Mutual – RetireSmart

Mass Mutual has a nice feature called RetireSmart with lots of financial information including calculators to help determine if you are on track for retirement.  And…it’s FREE!

The last tip I would recommend is to sign up for free rewards and coupons to further save money.  My favorites are:

  • Grocery store coupon and reward apps
  • Credit card points or miles
  • Gas station rewards

The easiest way to start saving is to choose something to save for.  Set a goal.  Maybe it isn’t retirement right now, but a vacation or a down payment for a house.  Once you accomplish that goal it will be easier and easier to continue saving to the point where it becomes second nature.